Wisconsin Dells – Day 2

Wisconsin Dells – Day 2

Today was our only full day in the Dells.  We started the day visiting Mt. Olympus waterpark.  As we were staying at a Bluegreen Resort we had access to $10 tickets.  We got to the park when it opened and spent four fun hours on the waterslides, lazy rivers, and wave pools.  By early afternoon we were hot and hungry so we left – definitely got our money’s worth!  Sadly I burned my toes – must have forgotten sunblock there!!!  Ouch.  No pictures from the waterpark as we left our phones at the resort. After a delicious lunch in the room using our pasta and sauces from Eataly, we cleaned up and headed back out. The Duck Tour was our plan.  It had been decided that after the waterpark this was the next “must-do” for the area.  I had actually done this tour as a kid, but it was so many years ago I didn’t remember anything except going in and out of the water.  The tour lasted about an hour and we loved getting to see how beautiful the Wisconsin River and Lake Delton are.  There is so much commercialism in the Dells area that it’s easy to forget the lovely nature all around.  Next time I’d consider renting a boat for the day and just hanging out on the water. After the tour, we decided we needed to cool off, so we went downtown to check out Wizard Quest.  They give you a tablet and you use it to find clues in the building to “save” the wizards.  There is a one-hour time limit, and the tablet...
4 Tips for the 4-H Fair

4 Tips for the 4-H Fair

Ready for another Everyday Adventure? If it isn’t fair time in your neck of the woods, it will be soon.  As both of my kids are involved in 4-H we spend a LOT of time at the fair.  Lucky for us, it’s a really great one.  The Hamilton County Fair is all about the kids and 4-H.  That means no rides and very little commercial “stuff.”  The food is all local churches, groups and/or food producers, very few booths selling things, and overall a great and simple family experience. If you haven’t been to your fair lately, go check it out and follow these tips to get the most out of your day:  Enjoy the food.  We are very healthy eaters, but I don’t worry about the occasional tenderloin or milkshake at the fair.  To make it a little better (and so we can try more), we typically split whatever we purchase.  One of the things I love about our fair is the price of the food – where else can you get a lemonade for 50 cents or an ear of fresh Indiana corn for $1.50?  It is a little challenging for my daughter who doesn’t eat meat, so one day she enjoyed a milkshake at the fair and then we picked up sushi on the way home for her dinner – there’s always a workaround!   Explore the projects.  If you are visiting a true 4-H Fair, there will be projects.  Lots of projects. The kids who submitted them worked hard (I can attest to an eight hour day of cooking in our household!). Until I had...
Wisconsin Dells – Day 1

Wisconsin Dells – Day 1

We left Chicago fairly early and headed north to Wisconsin Dells.  Years ago we visited the Dells but it was in February so we really didn’t know what to expect in June.  Traffic around Chicago was horrific so it took us much longer than we had hoped.  We were starving midway through so pulled out Yelp and found a quick, local grill called Dogs on the Chain.  Funny I know!  The burgers and hot dogs were AMAZING though.  Delicious, quick and affordable. Finally, we arrived in the Dells and checked into our room.  It was super hot – 90 degree plus, so we changed into our swimsuits and walked over to the pool at the resort.  The water felt terrific and we were all quite refreshed after just an hour of swimming and playing in the water. As I finished unpacking, I gave the kids a task to figure out what they want to do the most in the day and a half we were in the Dells.  They created a list of their combined favorites and then had everyone rank each item.  Their final step was to average the scores.  Pretty smart way to ensure we got to see what was most important to everyone! It was a little late in the day to do much, so we took off in the van to check out the downtown area.  We also stumbled across a fun, local restaurant for dinner (Ravina Bay Bar & Grill).  We ended up eating outside on the deck and discovered we were treated to a water show!  The Tommy Bartlett show was performing across...
Think Local

Think Local

Today I’m departing from our summer trip re-cap (I’ll pick back up with Wisconsin Dells next week) to give you all a little challenge.  I need it too – so I’ll be joining right in! Without any current trips planned, I need to find a way to still enjoy a “vacation” lifestyle.  Living near a decent sized city (Indianapolis) there are many things to do, but I tend to ignore what’s in my own backyard – the small suburb town I live in.  Don’t we all?  Even those of us who live in a vacation destination often take it for granted. So this week, I challenge you to take a day, afternoon or even an evening to do something locally.  Pick something that you’ve always said you need to check out, or a new restaurant to try, or a tourist attraction that you overlook since it’s always available. I spent all of 15 minutes this morning researching to try to find something fun and came up with so much!  A paint your own pottery place, shopping on our downtown square, TWO new restaurants that I haven’t tried yet, floating down the river, archery and/or a ropes course at our newest park, a winery I never knew existed and the 4-H fair.  Definitely, plenty I could do.  The fair will for sure happen as both my kids exhibit lots of projects, and in fact, I’ll do a full post next week on how to enjoy your county or state fair.  Now I just need to put together a fun outing with something else I’ve found … Check back next week...
Chicago Visit – Day 3

Chicago Visit – Day 3

Our last day in Chicago – we did a lot this trip but didn’t even touch everything we would have liked to have done.  Next time, right? We started the day by walking from our hotel to Millenium Park – it was about 15 minutes, so an easy little stroll.  It was going to be a hot day, so there were already lots of people enjoying the Crown Fountain. Just a few feet later we checked out the Bean.  We took dozens of pictures and had fun walking all around it, but my favorite was this one looking up into it from underneath: We walked across the bridge into the Maggie Daley Park next.  This is a fairly new addition to the city and a great place to hang out for a few hours or afternoon.  There is a huge climbing wall surrounded by what is called the Skating Ribbon.  We had planned to rent roller blades and skate around it, but the ribbon was closed for a summer camp – next time!  In the winter, they turn the ribbon into a place to ice skate – I think that would be fun.  The park also has a mini-golf course, play garden and several open fields perfect for kicking a ball around.  It’s a great addition to the city. As my daughter loves all things Italian, next we walked over to Eataly for lunch and shopping.  If you love Italian food, this is a fun place to check out.  We enjoyed checking out all the varieties of pasta, sauces, cheeses, oils, etc.  We purchased a few types of pasta...
Chicago Visit – Day 2

Chicago Visit – Day 2

The second day of our Chicago trip started early for me.  Everyone was sleeping so I slipped out to the Starbucks across the street to get a little work done.  It was relaxing and fun to people watch in a different city. Once we got going, we hopped onto the Big Bus and took it over to Navy Pier.  We had just enough time to enjoy a smoothie and green juice before walking over to the Shakespeare Theater to see the opening performance of Peter Pan.  What a treat!  The theater itself is beautiful and worth a visit – there isn’t a bad seat in the house.  The show was well done and so enjoyable.  If you’d like to hear more about it – I did a separate post HERE. After the show, we walked around the Pier and enjoyed the beautiful views.  Since it was lunchtime we decided to eat right there in the Food Court.  There was definitely something for everyone, so it was quick and easy.  We also indulged in a little sample of Garrett’s Popcorn courtesy of our Big Bus Tour – yum! Since time was getting short, we called an Uber and had the driver take us to the Adler Planetarium.  If you have any interest in space (my son is currently all about astronomy), then this is a must-see.  There was a lot of information, multiple exhibits, and some fun interactive areas.  We spent quite a bit of time making a hovercraft and testing to see if it would work – I love these type of hands-on projects. Hard to believe but by...
Peter Pan – Chicago Shakespeare Theater

Peter Pan – Chicago Shakespeare Theater

This summer, Chicago Shakespeare Theater is doing a production of Peter Pan.  Located right in the heart of Navy Pier (very convenient for tourists and locals alike), there are two shows a day:  11:00 AM and 2:00 PM. We enjoyed the opening day of production – and what an amazing show it was.  There was so much talent on the stage and so much energy. The plot follows the traditional J.M. Barrie’s version quite closely, which as huge Peter Pan fans, we love. The theatre itself is gorgeous.  Although it holds quite a few people, it feels very intimate.  I doubt there is a bad seat in the house. This particular show is perfect for a younger audience.  My kids are tween/teenage and they loved it, but the story is so engaging and such a childhood classic that kids as young as 5 or 6 would probably enjoy it.  Fantastic for the whole family. I loved the way they had the actors flying around the stage – looked like so much fun! Captain Hook was fantastic.  The actor nailed the role. Do yourself a favor and take your family to this show – it runs through August 19th. Want a sneak peek?  Check out this YouTube video courtesy of Chicago Shakespeare Theater: Chicago Shakespeare Theater, 800 East Grand Avenue, Chicago, IL 312.595.5600 Thanks to Chicago Shakespeare Theater for hosting us at the show – we loved every minute of it.  The opinions expressed are all my...
Spy-Themed Restaurant?  SAFEHOUSE!

Spy-Themed Restaurant? SAFEHOUSE!

On our last night in Chicago, we were treated to a wonderful experience at a restaurant called The SafeHouse.  This is the second location for this spy-themed restaurant (the first being in Milwaukee) but I could definitely see it growing.  In fact, during dinner, we mentioned several times that this would be a huge hit in the Orlando area. Your first challenge is finding the restaurant.  There is an address, but there isn’t a big splashy entrance like you’ll find at most restaurants.  In fact, the only clues are a small plaque and a few signs – on a busy street like this one in Chicago, you have to look carefully or you’ll miss it! Open the door to find a simple reception room.  The receptionist asks who you are there to see.  If you know the password, you’ll be let right in.  Don’t worry if you don’t know the password though – you’ll just have to do something to gain access and prove you aren’t a double-agent.  If your kids are with you, ham it up – they’ll love it. The restaurant is really amazing.  Once seated, you’ll be greeted by your special agent and asked to make your own special agent nametags – which you are now known as … Our agent – Agent Mardi Gras was as fun as her name implies and she didn’t let us off the hook at all.  We had a variety of fun challenges throughout the meal that we had to complete.  Being a competitive family, we relished the chance to try to beat each other to the answers, solve the...
Chicago Visit – Day 1

Chicago Visit – Day 1

Our first day in Chicago was action-packed!  Lucky for us it’s a short 3-hour drive from Indianapolis, so even with a stop, we were there early afternoon. We decided to stop in Merriville and visit the Albanese Factory Tour and Outlet.  The tour was really just peeking through some windows to watch gummy bears being made – but still pretty interesting.  The candy was the winner.  This store offered just about any kind of candy you could want, so you can bet we stocked up on a few varieties to enjoy the rest of the week!  They also sell big bags of candies called “oops.”  The gummies that didn’t quite make the grade appearance-wise, but still taste great.  Fun!     Once we arrived, we checked into our hotel and quickly hit the street.  Our first stop was to hop on a Big Bus Tour.  There was a stop conveniently located a few blocks from our hotel so we walked over and chatted with the agent while waiting for our bus to arrive.  She was super helpful and gave us some great tips and ideas for things to do.  She also shared that by hopping on the bus after 2:00 PM our tickets were good for the next day – bonus! If you are interested in the benefits of doing a Big Bus Tour (and there are many), check out my blog post on the tour HERE. Our original plan was to get off at the Water Tower, grab a bite to eat and shop for a bit, but looking at the time we decided to just do the...
Blue Man Group – Don’t Miss It!

Blue Man Group – Don’t Miss It!

Through the years, we’ve seen dozens of shows, but Blue Man Group felt like a first.  As soon as you enter the lobby the artwork and “Important Information” sign clue you in that this is going to be different from a normal Broadway-style show. Surprise is the perfect word to describe what you’ll experience at a Blue Man Group performance. Blue Man Group is currently playing at the Briar Street Theatre in Chicago, perfectly located close to the red line.  To celebrate the 25th anniversary of the original show in NYC, Blue Man Group held an art competition.  The results are creative and exciting and make waiting for the show to begin a joy.   We especially loved that the art included multiple senses – just like the show. Once you enter the actual theatre and see the hilarious “advice” scrolling across the screen (not just your typical quiet your phones), you know you are in for a treat. I don’t want to say too much specifically about the show because I don’t want to ruin the fun for others.  A big part of the experience is not knowing exactly what will come next.  I will say that it was nothing like what I expected.  The show is funny, creative and full of fantastic energy and music.  We were lucky to have an especially interactive audience which positively added to the experience. Although not a word is spoken, we always understood what was happening.  The music is quite loud (and very good – a lot of talent here!) and there are a lot of flashing lights, fun technology and parts...

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